About that time, I’d moved back in with Vicky. She had someone living with her who was recovering from a stroke and I was able to help her by caring for the woman while Vicky was at work. I was on crutches a lot from my surgeries, but had mastered getting around on them, so was able to help out.
One day Vicky said to me, “Brittani, you need to figure out what you’re going to do with your life. You’ve been in physical therapy for all these years and you’re really good at it, so why don’t you got back to school for it?”
I didn’t really want to be a physical therapist, but I got to thinking about it and had the brilliant idea to get my EMT certification. It was the perfect combination of everything I wanted at that point in my life – a way to help people plus the adrenaline rush I loved. Oh, and did I mention that as an EMT I could work on ski patrol and get back on the slopes? Yes, it always circles back to that.
I was still on crutches full time and couldn’t drive my truck, it was a stick shift and required two feet. My days started with hobbling on my crutches through the snow to the bus stop, then take the bus to school, then hop around on crutches in the snow at school, then repeat on the way home. I loved my classes and I was OK getting around that way at first. But when it came time for my clinical rotations on the ambulance and in the Emergency Room, things got challenging. Because of the crutches and my injury, I wasn’t able to get in the ambulance. I hit a wall for my training, and I had to admit that this wasn’t working. My instructors worked with me and split the clinical shifts into smaller sessions instead of doing 12 hours per day, but it was still rough.
I was so frustrated that I told someone “I’m just going to cut my ankle off!” They laughed. I was just joking.
But…It got me thinking.
I started looking very seriously at my situation and what my options were. I researched fusing more. Again, the same answer, this wasn’t for me. Fusing would immobilize my ankle joint and I wouldn’t have the ability to bend it at all. Movement would be difficult. An active life as an athlete – impossible.
But then during my research I discovered some videos of an amputee downhill mountain biking, and he was killing it. He was active, doing everything I wanted to do. In the videos I was watching, all the people had overcome illness or injuries and were out there giving it all in extreme sports. When I saw this, my heart started pounding – I felt like I’d found my answer.